Become a Better Editor of Your Own Work
Lesson 3 –
Strategy #3: Read your story from the last sentence to the first. I know how weird this sounds, but give it a try anyway. In his book, Reverse Editing: The Surest Technique for Editing, Eugene Orlando states that reading each sentence – he prefers aloud – beginning with the last sentence “removes all content editing.” You don’t get caught up in the story. You can focus on “the mechanics of writing.” Although his reverse editing is more involved than just reading your story backwards, we will focus on that one facet of his method of editing.
Problem #3: missing inflections, missing or wrong words, and apostrophe mistakes in your work
I have a habit of typing has when I mean to type had. I also frequently leave out n’t in contractions. Spell check is no help in finding either error.
You probably make similar mistakes. Maybe you leave off –ed at the end of past tense verbs. Maybe you omit the –s or –es that make nouns plural. Maybe you leave out is or another common word.
Two more errors that easily overlooked is the missing -s at the end of present tense verbs with a third-person singular subject and a missing apostrophe or an incorrect apostrophe.
When you read your story beginning at the end, you’ll catch those omissions and wrong word errors much quicker.
What you need to know about apostrophes:
Apostrophes are used in two ways. One use is to show possession.
Examples: Susie’s doll, the Johnsons’ new car, Ted and Carol’s wedding (they married each other), girls’ grades
The other use for apostrophes is to take the place of a letter, letters, or numbers that are omitted – contractions, in other words.
Examples: won’t – will not, I’ve – I have, ‘70s – 1970s. Notice, no apostrophe here between 0 and s.
Remember: if no one owns anything and no letters or numbers have been left out, don’t use an apostrophe.
Give the strategy a try as you look for missing words, inflections, and apostrophe errors in your writing. You may use the chapter you printed on Monday if you like.
Now you try it.
Read a chapter/scene of your work beginning at the end. Read the last sentence, and then read the sentence before that one. That’s it. As you read, look for errors in missing inflections like –s, -es on nouns, and –s, -ed, -ing on verbs. Also look for apostrophe errors as well. Correct any mistakes you find.
After you have read through your work, post 10 original sentences that have a missing inflection or apostrophe mistake. Then correct the mistake and post the corrected sentence. Post on Lesson 3 homework and questions thread. This homework is due Tuesday, midnight, EDT.
If you don’t find ten errors – pat yourself on the back and post ten correct sentences with apostrophes and inflections.